Leader of the Green Party, Josephine Chari-Jones, is no stranger to uphill challenges. A second-generation migrant from a declining fishing town in Aquitanium, Chari-Jones was able to go to college only because of a scholarship. She had to couchsurf for her first year as she couldn’t find a job to pay for rent. Both of her parents died when she was in college; her mother from breast cancer when she was 19, and her father took his own life a year later. She has been open about how she was a victim of sexual assault soon after college, and in her early career as a young, black lawyer she faced significant discrimination in law firms. Becoming the largest party in Sanctaria, and becoming the first minority ethnic, and first Green Party, Chancellor in the nation’s history is the next challenge she is hoping to overcome.
Chari-Jones has already seen quite a bit of success under her stewardship of the Green Party. After the 2018 general election, her party was the 3rd largest in the House of Deputies; it later slipped to 4th after the split of the New Sanctaria Party from both the Sanctarian Conservative Party and the Christian Union Party. The Greens are in power in Aquitanium, in a coalition with the Democratic Left Party in the state government there. And they lead the other parties by a not insignificant amount in voting preferences among voters under the age of 30, by far the demographic growing the most, and becoming less politically apathetic. For the first time, also, in the Green Party electoral history, she is fielding a candidate in every single House constituency; a sign she is serious about the Green Party entering government, and her becoming Chancellor.
There is a touch of naivety in her leadership, though. An excellent performer on the campaign trail, and in debates, within the party itself she is said to be too trusting, and that she forgets that internal party politics is just as important as external facing. She has seen no less than six deputy leaders, all of whom bar the latest tried to mount a heave against her; to be fair to her, she has seen all challenges off, but it raises questions when it happens five times. Is it her personal politics that causes her colleagues to sometimes question her judgement?
It’s certainly an anomaly in Sanctarian politics that the leader of a party is on the more extreme wing of the party; in the DLP, the SCP, and even in the NSP and CUP, the leaders are on the more moderate (or at least, not on the extreme far right/left) wing of the party. Chari-Jones however, is certainly more to the left than the party she leads. This explains why the party rely heavily on its spokespeople on the campaign trail – other frontbench MPs. Though, as stated, Chari-Jones is an excellent communicator, her extreme politics often leave her exposed. The general public are more likely to say they have “no opinion” or “don’t know” when asked how they feel about her; every other party leader elicits more passionate responses.
She is unapologetically socialist, something which may well hinder her with the population at large. She believes capitalism is the root cause of the increasing global temperatures, and that change can only come about by regulating companies, and restricting them heavily on how and what they produce. She has said she would ban private transport if she could, and that farmers who complain about green policies need to reflect on their own practices, as, in her words, farming is “dangerous for the environment”. A vegan, she believes that animal farming is cruel and can have long-term effects not only the land and the climate, but on human diet too.
Chari-Jones believes housing to be a human right, though thinks people who own more than one house to be “a blight on society”; landlordism, she has said in the past, is capitalistic greed. Despite all this, though, she does not think capitalism can be abolished (the jury is out on whether or not she thinks it should) – she espouses a “progressive, democratic, community-led capitalism”, though to date she has been vague on the details of what such an economy looks like. She has said that taxes need to be high “but proportionate for lower-earners” to continue to pay for things like free education and free healthcare, but also to introduce things like free public transport, free internet access, and subsidised shopping for low to middle-income earners.
You can list the number of ethnic minority cabinet members in the nation’s history on one hand. Chari-Jones’ position at the top table of politics in Sanctaria is a credit to her, and she is certainly a role model for many minorities, but especially black women in particular. No matter her politics, or how people feel about Chari-Jones and the Green Party, if she became Sanctaria’s first black Chancellor it’d certainly be a cause for celebration.
JOEY SESSIONS, Political Editor